What is the Legal Deposit Scheme and why is it important?

Publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have a legal obligation to send one copy of each of their printed publications to the Legal Deposit Office of the British Library within one month of publication. They are also encouraged to send a copy to each of the other Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK at:

The right of the British Library to receive one copy of every publication distributed in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland is based on the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and the Copyright and Related Act, 2000.

However, it doesn’t relate to electronic publications such as eBooks just yet, although the British Library has introduced a scheme whereby publishers of scholarly electronic journals can voluntarily submit copies their publications.

Another voluntary scheme has also recently been released by the British Library to encourage website owners to allow regular ‘snapshots’ of their website to be archived in a database (think archive.org and the wayback machine) to Web-Archivist@bl.uk

Legal Deposit matters because it is as complete a record as is possible of all works relating to a specific nationality and culture and could be a hugely relevant resource for future generations to understand more about the history of a nation. It is also important from a marketing perspective (as well as a legal perspective) because it means your work is available for research purposes and could be cited (if it were appropriate).

You need to send a copy of your work to:

Legal Deposit & Digital Acquisitions Co-ordinator, The British Library, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7BQ and you can find out more about Legal Deposit in the UK from http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/legaldep/

The first instance of the requirement for Legal Deposit was in France by the Ordonnance de Montpellier of 1537.

Outside the UK the right of national libraries to hold a copy of every work published is also made in:

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  1. You’re very welcome Sadie, glad to help and I find it easy for me to curate my own material on various websites I own, it’s often easier for me to find things later then 🙂

  2. If they have separate ISBN numbers they do Chris and typically if something has been revised or re-issued it will have a change of ISBN number.